As summer roars into full swing, cities across the country are finding themselves in the scorching grip of yet another heat wave. The mercury has already climbed upwards of 95 degrees in several states and as much as we love the laid back lazy days of summer, such temperatures can be dangerous, even deadly if you don’t know how to cope with a heat wave.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe and cool during the hot summer months:

1 – Drink Lots of Water

Even if you aren’t thirsty it’s important to drink lots of cool water. To switch things up you can make a 50-50 mix of water and fruit juice, a great option for kids. It’s important to avoid alcohol, energy drinks and soft drinks. Caffeine will zap your stored water reserves and lead to dehydration, which is extremely unhealthy and dangerous.

2 – Stay in the Shade

If you’re going to be outside, spend as much time in the shade as possible. The scorching sun will contribute to dehydration and may lead to heat stroke. Try to schedule your outdoor activities for the early morning or evening, when temperatures are cooler and there is less direct sunlight.

3 – Keep Your Home Cool

If you don’t have air conditioning, make sure there are fans going at all times during the day. Just don’t use a fan in a closed room without open doors or windows. Take a cool shower when you start to feel overheated. If it gets too hot inside your home, find another place to relax and stay cool. The local library or shopping malls are great places to keep your mind occupied while waiting out the heat. Several cities also offer designated cooling centers where you can cool off and have a drink of water.

4 – Dress Appropriately for the Heat

Wear loose-fitting light colored clothing. Cotton is ideal, as synthetic fabrics tend to retain heat, which will make your time spent outside much more miserable. It’s always a good idea to put on a hat and sun block when you venture outdoors.

5 – Turn Off Appliances

Keeping appliances and electronics on will make it hotter in your house. Lights, televisions and computers all generate heat. Be sure to turn off any appliances and electronics not in use to avoid raising the temperature in your home. Also, try to eat food you don’t have to cook during the day. Using the oven or stovetop can lead to a fast and very uncomfortable spike in heat.

6 – Know the Side Effects of Your Medication

If you are any kind of medication, health care professionals want you to know that it is very important to know the potential side effects. Some medicines impact the way your body controls and regulates temperatures and others increase the risk of sun burn. These side effects are much more common than you might think in both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Pay close attention to the side effects of your medicine and always contact a health care physician when in doubt.

7 – Make the Most of Your Refrigerator

Keep a spray bottle full of water in your refrigerator during the day and spray yourself every once in a while for a much needed cool down. The fridge is also a great place to keep lotions and other skincare items. Using cooled lotions on your feet will help bring your body temperature down.

8 – Don’t Eat Heavy Foods

Cool, light meals like a fresh salad, cold fruit and small snacks are the best fare when the heat is in its prime. A heavy meal will just bog you down and could force you to use the dreaded oven. Keep your meals light during the day and you’ll feel much cooler and have more energy.

About the author: Julie Lee is a freelance writer who tends to focus her writing on college life and student health issues as well as helpful advice on college degree programs such as health care administration.

Credits: Photo courtesy of Tor Lindstrand.